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2015 Environmental Justice Implementation Report

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT, the Department) is committed to providing safe, reliable and efficient transportation to communities nationwide. In doing so, DOT comprehensively incorporates Environmental Justice (EJ) considerations across all of the Department’s programs, policies, and activities. By ensuring opportunities for impacted communities to provide meaningful input throughout the transportation planning and decision-making processes, we actively prevent disproportionately high and adverse effects of transportation projects on minority and low income communities.

The Department issues this annual Implementation Report to describe and summarize DOT’s EJ activities in keeping with Executive Order (EO) 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations” and a Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice signed by the heads of Federal agencies in 2011.

In 1995, DOT issued its first EJ strategy to implement the requirements of EO 12898. The DOT updated its EJ Strategy in 2012, recommitting to the EJ principles and to integrating those principles into DOT programs, policies, and activities. In 2015, DOT began updating the EJ Strategy, and the Department plans to release an updated EJ Strategy in early 2016.

In 1997, the Department issued an internal DOT Order on EJ (DOT Order 5610.2) as a key component of the original EJ strategy. The DOT updated the Order in 2012 (DOT Order 5610.2(a)) to reaffirm the Department's commitment to achieving EJ as part of its mission and state that it is DOT policy to promote EJ principles.

The DOT convenes the internal DOT EJ Working Group, which meets regularly to discuss EJ issues, including those that arise in individual or multiple Operating Administration (OAs) and in Department-wide initiatives, to ensure consistency in policy objectives, share expertise, facilitate efficient use of resources, and encourage consultation and coordination among employees in civil rights offices, environmental program offices, planning offices, and legal offices. The DOT EJ Working Group reviews guidance developed by the OAs to ensure consistency throughout the Department. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy (OST-Policy) leads and coordinates the DOT Working Group, which is comprised of attorneys, civil rights staff, planning office staff, and environmental program staff from applicable OAs and the Office of the Secretary (OST).

The Department participates in the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) as well as three of its committees: Impacts from Commercial Transportation “Goods Movement;” the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq (Title VI) prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs or activities receiving financial assistance from DOT. EJ concerns may also occur in programs and activities supported through Federal financial assistance, and in these circumstances, Title VI is an important tool for addressing those concerns.

The Department continues to emphasize Ladders of Opportunity to create economic growth and spark community revitalization, particularly for disadvantaged groups – low-income, minority, older adults, or individuals with disabilities. The transportation system plays a critical role in connecting Americans to opportunity by providing people with reliable and affordable connections to employment, education, services and other opportunities, creating career pathways into transportation jobs, and revitalizing neighborhoods and regions. Ladders of Opportunity concepts were incorporated into the Administration's GROW AMERICA Act reauthorization proposal, several funding and grant announcements, and in ongoing technical assistance programs. The Department has identified ways to incorporate Ladders of Opportunity concepts as we implement the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), which was enacted in December 2015. The DOT continues this focus in 2016.

Specific actions and ongoing work to achieve EJ goals in 2015 in the DOT OAs are detailed below. Highlights include the following:

  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released the FHWA Environmental Justice Reference Guide, a resource document intended primarily for FHWA Division staff and to share with State Department of Transportation (State DOT) and Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) partners to help them meet EJ compliance requirements.
  • The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) developed a two-day National Transit Institute (NTI) EJ training module and rolled it out in 2014 and 2015 to eight FTA regions across the country, including in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Austin, and Boston in 2015. The training provided FTA grantees with an overview of EJ non-discrimination principles and explained the process for planning, implementing, and applying transportation equity considerations.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Civil Rights, Airport Nondiscrimination Compliance Program Team created a Title VI Awareness Tool and initiated it with nine airports. The tool outlines EJ questions covering EJ impacts, community demographics, low-income or minority populations, outreach/awareness, and community engagement.

The Department continues to consider the needs of the most vulnerable populations. For example, DOT assessed the impact of potential projects on local communities and applied the DOT EJ strategy to climate adaptation and resiliency activities, in particular as part of FHWA Gulf Coast Study and climate change resilience pilots. Additional information regarding DOT's climate adaptation activities can be found in the Department's 2014 DOT Climate Adaptation Plan.

Departmental Office of Civil Rights

The Departmental Office of Civil Rights (DOCR) has initiated a number of activities to strengthen its enforcement of Title VI in all facets of the agency. In 2015, DOCR began an effort to update the Departmental Title VI Order, which has not been revised since 1977. The new DOT Title VI Order will provide policy guidance and standards for establishing and maintaining effective affirmative enforcement programs under Title VI and its implementing regulations. Among other things, the Order will direct each OA to establish policies and procedures to ensure more proactive Title VI compliance by their recipients of federal financial assistance. This will include: developing systems to identify and eliminate barriers and to evaluate program effectiveness; ensuring adequate data for effective analysis; and demonstrating commitment to principles of equality and opportunity throughout the program areas of the Department. Among the responsibilities that each OA will have under the new order is to implement the Department’s updated EJ Strategy. The draft Order is expected to be released by spring 2016.

In 2014, Secretary Foxx instructed all DOT OAs to develop and implement a Language Access Plan to identify language assistance needs and concrete steps towards ensuring meaningful access for Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals, in all of their programming, which includes engaging the public in EJ matters. In 2014 and 2015, DOCR led the Departmental effort to ensure that each OA prepared an LEP Plan to improve access to Departmental programs and activities for those eligible individuals who, because of national origin, are limited English proficient (LEP). The OA LEP Plans promote EJ by enhancing meaningful access to the Department’s programs and activities, for all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the Department’s implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

In 2015, DOCR created a Language Assistance Volunteer (LAV) Program as a means to provide meaningful language access for interpretation services, and for translating Departmental documents in the various languages spoken by LEP individuals. The LAVs perform language assistance tasks such as: fielding telephone requests from LEP individuals; assisting LEP persons in understanding official public documents; translating incoming email or hard copy correspondence; and providing interpretation when LEP individuals are meeting with DOT staff on official business. The LAVs also are able to conduct some outreach with LEP communities. The LAV Program provides another means of ensuring that the Department promotes EJ by enhancing meaningful access to the Department’s programs and activities, for all people, with respect to the Department’s implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Federal Highway Administration

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) advances EJ through its numerous policies, programs, and activities. In 2015, FHWA strengthened its EJ initiatives to ensure compliance with EO 12898, the Department’s EJ Order 5610.2(a), and FHWA EJ Order 6640.23A. This report summarizes several key activities and accomplishments from 2015 as carried out by the FHWA Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty (HEP), the FHWA Office of Civil Rights (HCR), the FHWA Office of Chief Counsel (HCC), the Resource Center Technical Services Team, the Office of Federal Lands Highway, and 52 Division Offices.

FHWA Headquarters and Direction

The FHWA Headquarters Offices advanced EJ over the last year through development of policy documents, training and technical assistance, publications and research, and other projects.

Policy Documents

  • HCR drafted the Title VI Action Plan for OST to assess and improve the effectiveness of FHWA’s Title VI Program, which includes EJ.

Training and Technical Assistance

  • HCR and HEP collaborated with the Florida Division and two of its MPOs (Broward and MetroPlan) to deliver a webinar on limited English proficiency (LEP), which discussed best practices, minimum requirements, and the importance of LEP to both EJ and Title VI compliance.
  • HEP partnered with FTA on an internal webinar entitled “EJ in Planning” as part of the “Let’s Talk Planning” webinar series.
  • HCR presented training on Title VI Implementation Plans and Accomplishment Reports to FHWA Divisions, which included information on EJ.
  • HEP held its first webinar in a two-part series, “Environmental Justice and Title VI: The Power of Good Data Analysis.” The second webinar, which focused on practical approaches and tools for EJ and Title VI data collection and analysis at the regional and State levels, was held in January 2016.
  • Office of Operations (HOP) held a Talking Freight seminar, titled “International Urban Freight Conference Presentation—Warehouse Locations and Community Impacts,” which focused on how locating freight warehouses and distribution facilities can adversely impact EJ communities.

Publications and Research

Other Projects

  • HCR assisted FHWA Division Offices with review and approval of State Title VI Implementation Plans, and Goals and Accomplishments Reports, which includes State EJ policies and activities.
  • HCR completed an extensive investigation of a Title VI and EJ complaint in Porter v. Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which alleged Title VI violations on the Harbor Bridge project. During the investigation, FHWA and TxDOT entered into discussions to create new mitigation actions that would offset disproportionately high and adverse community cohesion and isolation impacts from the project. The added mitigation includes but is not limited to: (1) a voluntary relocation program for all eligible homeowners, renters, and businesses; (2) assistance to residents of the DN Leathers low-income housing complex; (3) a voluntary restrictive covenant program to offer $7,500 to homeowners who choose to stay; and (4) a community liaison to facilitate and support the needs of neighborhood residents.
  • HCR conducted a Title VI compliance review for Washington DOT (WSDOT), which included a review of WSDOT EJ policies and implementation.
  • HEP worked with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), Lexington, and the FHWA Kentucky Division to produce both a 30-minute video and a 5-minute video to showcase the innovative mitigation for EJ and Community Impacts on the Newtown Pike Extension Project.
  • HEP and HCR co-presented at the 2015 Southern Transportation Civil Rights Training Symposium in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The presentation included an overview of FHWA’s EJ Reference Guide, focusing on the Data Collection/Analysis and Non-discrimination sections. Representatives from the Florida DOT (FDOT) also presented information on FDOT’s approach to identifying transportation effects on human environments and tools to help project teams achieve equitable outcomes.
  • HEP and HCR conducted a Title VI and EJ technical review with Wisconsin Division of Wisconsin DOT’s (WIDOT) I-94 East-West Corridor project draft environmental impact statement.
  • HCC provided legal guidance and support to Division Offices on various highway projects across the Country to ensure that the principles of EJ are incorporated into Agency decisions.

FHWA EJ Implementation Working Group

The FHWA EJ Implementation Working Group is an intra-agency work group that coordinates FHWA EJ activities by building awareness of existing EJ-related programs within FHWA, enhances EJ coordination within FHWA and across all DOT OAs, and improves practitioner understanding of EJ policies. The Working Group actively collaborates using an internal SharePoint website to exchange EJ knowledge. In its third year, the Working Group met nine times and contributed to the development of a variety of products. Several key accomplishments include:

  • Released the FHWA Environmental Justice Reference Guide, a resource document collaborated among several FHWA offices, intended primarily for FHWA Division staff and to share with State DOT and MPO partners to help them with EJ compliance requirements;
  • Held two webinars on the EJ Reference Guide, an internal webinar for FHWA Division Offices, and an external webinar with stakeholders. Representatives from many FHWA offices, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) participated in the webinars;
  • Coordinated with EPA a pilot demonstration of the EPA EJSCREEN tool for the Working Group;
  • Assisted in the ongoing development of the National Highway Institute (NHI) EJ Analysis Course and online EJ Fundamentals Course; and
  • Developed and reviewed content for FHWA’s new EJ website, which is expected to be posted in 2016.

FHWA Division Offices and the Resource Center

The FHWA maintains Division Offices in each State, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico as well as Resource Center offices located in several States. Division Offices provide direct assistance, guidance, and information to State DOTs and MPOs. The FHWA Resource Center provides technical support and program assistance to Division Offices. Staff members at Division Offices and the Resource Center play a critical role in implementing EJ because they work directly with stakeholders, grantees, and the general public.

The following section describes Division Office and Resource Center EJ initiatives. For many activities, Divisions collaborated with the State DOT, MPOs, or other local agencies. Division Offices were active in five general areas that support EJ: (1) professional development and training; (2) developing policies or guidance; (3) public engagement; (4) technical assistance; and (5) other projects and programs.

Professional Development and Training

  • The Arizona Division and the Resource Center hosted a two-day training event that included presentations on Civil Rights, the Title VI Program, EJ, and how they all interact with NEPA and public involvement. Arizona DOT Environmental Planning Group staff and Division Office staff attended the training.
  • The Michigan DOT (MDOT) collaborated with Michigan Division and Resource Center staff and FTA field staff in the development of materials for an EJ webinar, “Fundamentals of Environmental Justice,” focusing on why MPOs and MDOT should analyze EJ populations. Follow-up EJ training, “Environmental Justice Analysis in Planning and NEPA,” focusing on how to do EJ analysis was held for February 2016.
  • The New Jersey Division provided technical assistance and guidance to New Jersey DOT (NJDOT) in developing training on Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping demonstrations to introduce NJDOT’s Land-Use and Environmental Justice mapping tool. Division staff attended the training to provide technical support during the Q&A session.
  • The North Dakota Division participated in a NEPA review course that included elements of EJ analysis and documentation protocol.
  • The Virginia Division embarked on statewide training for staff of the Virginia DOT district offices and MPOs on Title VI: Nondiscrimination in the Federal-aid program. EJ is an integral part of the training. Focuses include: potential impacts of Federally-assisted programs on EJ populations, and mitigation options; data collection and analysis; and developing processes, procedures, and activities to integrate compliance with EJ obligations into routine project and program administration.
  • The Nevada Division hosted the 2015 Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Interstate Certification Forum for Nevada Unified Certification Program members.
  • The FHWA Resource Center Civil Rights Technical Service Team provided a series of Title VI Program trainings and workshops for State DOT personnel (including programs in Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Rhode Island, and South Carolina), local public agencies, MPOs, and other recipients. EJ is an integral part of FHWA’s Title VI Program. Discussions focused on: policies and procedures to address impacts on EJ populations and mitigation options; how to integrate EJ activities into routine transportation decision-making, data collection and analysis; and how to conduct nondiscrimination reviews, including EJ, for verification and compliance.
  • The FHWA Technical Service Team held a Fundamentals of EJ webinar with the Michigan Division.
  • The FHWA Technical Service Team delivered the NHI course “Fundamentals of Environmental Justice” to the Wisconsin Division and WIDOT.
  • The Ohio Division hosted a one-day EJ in Planning Peer Exchange Workshop. The workshop was held in conjunction with FHWA’s Technical Service Team and the VOLPE Center and included discussions on Civil Rights, the Title VI Program, EJ, and regional models of cooperation.

Developing Policies or Guidance

  • The Florida Division requested and guided FDOT’s expanded scope and coverage of its Title VI/Nondiscrimination Implementation Plan policy statement so that the program covers EJ and LEP compliance, regardless of department, service, or activity. This resulted from strong oversight of EJ in the Planning and Environment offices. Inclusion of this information in the main nondiscrimination policy ensures that FDOT and the Division do not overlook EJ considerations in the ancillary programs.
  • The Maine Division, Maine DOT, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers coordinated with federally-recognized tribes to draft, review, and concur on a Section 106 Tribal Programmatic Agreement. The final Section 106 Tribal Programmatic Agreement is anticipated to be finalized in 2016.
  • The Maryland Division transportation planners reviewed the Baltimore MPO Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), “Maximize 2040,” to learn how the MPO reaches out to typically underrepresented groups to address Title VI and the transportation disadvantaged.
  • The Nebraska Division and Nebraska Department of Roads issued a new Categorical Exclusion (CE) Programmatic Agreement (PA). The PA includes thresholds for EJ consideration that would trigger Division Office review of project-level EJ assessment for CEs.
  • The New Hampshire Division Civil Rights Specialist participated in the update of New Hampshire DOT’s Environmental Process Manual to assist in compliance with both State and Federal environmental requirements, including EJ.
  • The Oklahoma Division initiated efforts with Oklahoma DOT’s (ODOT) Environmental Programs Division to develop procedures to address social and economic impacts as well as EJ impacts by highway projects. This resulted in the joint FHWA/ODOT development of the “Guidance for Social and Economic Analysis”, a guidance document that ODOT has incorporated into its environmental analysis procedures for its environmental documents. ODOD uses this guidance document internally and distributes it externally to its consultants who prepare environmental analysis for its projects.
  • The Rhode Island Division reviewed and commented on Rhode Island’s MPO draft report on Transportation Equity Benefit Analysis (TEBA). The Division’s comments were incorporated in the final analysis plan, which is currently in use. The TEBA will determine how the State’s transportation programs and investments impact selected population groups in an effort to encourage geographic and socio-economic equity in transportation investments throughout the State.
  • The Utah Division evaluated and updated EJ information in Utah DOT’s LRTP.
  • The Ohio Division worked with Ohio DOT (ODOT) to revise the 2012 ODOT Environmental Justice Policy and Guidance to reflect the changes in the CE Programmatic Agreement to provide more defined guidance to ODOT decision-makers, District environmental staff, and consultants.
  • Arkansas Division participated in a review/update of Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department’s public involvement/hearing procedures.

Public Engagement

  • The Louisiana Division and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development engaged in an extensive EJ and public outreach component for the I-49 Inner City Connector project in Shreveport. Based on a series of Community Input meetings as part of the NEPA process, an additional project alternative was developed to address community concerns. A third round of Community Input meetings held in January 2016 discussed all alternatives, including the new alternative.
  • The Massachusetts Division worked collaboratively with Massachusetts DOT to expand its stakeholder contact list and fully integrate it into its Title VI and EJ Mapping and Outreach Tool, which allows for community- and project-level demographic analysis, and serves as a database to identify community based organizations (CBOs) and leaders within or in the vicinity of study areas. Further, a process to capture all existing CBOs and leaders representing or serving Title VI and EJ populations has been established through coordination with the MPOs in the State.
  • The Minnesota Division supported Minnesota DOT and other local partners in completing a new High Occupancy Toll (HOT) facility on I-35W. The Division is utilizing components of an EJ analysis to develop and implement a broader public information plan that will target specific outreach efforts to traditionally underrepresented groups.
  • The Montana Division reviewed revisions to the Montana DOT’s Public Involvement Plan to ensure appropriate procedures for EJ consideration for environmental and planning related efforts.
  • The Oregon Division identified transmission of project-level information related to the Franklin Boulevard project to potentially affected populations through the County Senior and Disabled Services’ Meals on Wheels service. The project design was modified to avoid displacement of a grocery store that also serves as a gathering place for low-income individuals.
  • The Texas Division hosted a Livability Summit in Laredo, Texas. The Summit provided an opportunity for participants to learn about the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, Federal funding and technical assistance, and regional planning efforts to better align livability goals with the transportation, housing, and environmental needs of communities in the EJ-designated Laredo region.
  • Colorado Division facilitated the approval of the Colorado DOT (CDOT) application to participate in the DOT Local Hiring Program. The Division assisted CDOT in developing the messaging for monthly community meetings and door-to-door outreach that provided project updates. The FHWA also worked closely with CDOT to refine mitigation for the EJ communities as a result of public comments.
  • The District of Columbia Division provided technical assistance to the District of Columbia DOT in the development of an agency-wide Public Outreach and Communications Manual, which will include EJ community engagement.

Technical Assistance

  • The Alabama Division and Alabama DOT assessed and documented the effects of the I-20/I-59 Bridge Replacement on EJ communities and the Birmingham Central Business District Project.
  • The California Division worked with Caltrans to develop Title VI and EJ program guidance for local public agencies.
  • The Hawaii Division helped Hawaii DOT prepare for its Annual Civil Rights Symposium.
  • The Missouri Division’s Planning and Civil Rights Program specialists participated in discretionary planning process reviews of two non-Transportation Management Areas: the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Area and the Joplin Area Transportation Study Organization. The reviews verified the basis for the annual Title VI self-certification and ensured compliance with EJ. The recommendations support Title VI and EJ compliance, specifically with respect to formalizing a Title VI plan that engages minority and low-income populations in transportation decision-making and updating the public-involvement plan.
  • The West Virginia Division Office hosted a webinar on EPA’s EJSCREEN Mapping Tool for the West Virginia Division of Highways.
  • The Washington Division provided technical assistance to the WSDOT on Title VI, EJ, LEP, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) related to the State's development of its Public Involvement Plan, outreach efforts associated with its LRTP, and project-related environmental documents.
  • The Illinois Division conducted a Transportation Management Area (TMA) Planning Certification Review in Rockford, IL, where Title VI and EJ were examined. The review looked at MPO, State, and transit policies and programming decisions to evaluate whether traditionally underserved populations were receiving appropriate consideration and investment.
  • The South Carolina Division conducted a planning certification review for the Charleston TMA. During the review, the Division’s review team assessed how the MPO was addressing Title VI and EJ issues in the planning process, the steps they are taking to identify minority populations in the metropolitan area, and the type of outreach being conducted to ensure that populations protected through Title VI and covered under EJ are being adequately involved and represented in the transportation decision-making process.​
  • The Office of Federal Lands Highway Tribal Transportation Program (TTP) provided technical assistance with the TIGER VI Poplar Airport Redevelopment and Regional Access Project on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The project consists of the construction of a new commercial and residential subdivision in an area that was previously utilized as farmland and the city airport (which was relocated in 2009). The TTP is providing technical assistance with all access roads, residential streets, and associated transportation structures within the project area. The community suffers from housing shortages for low-income families and a deteriorating downtown. The project will provide adequate housing and associated commercial services, and infrastructure on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Other Projects and Programs

  • The Iowa Division and Iowa DOT completed several reviews on the transportation planning processes across the State. These reviews included the Sioux City MPO and three Regional Planning Affiliations (RPAs) in the State. One session was dedicated entirely to Title VI and EJ compliance.
  • The Mississippi Division assisted in administering the Three-County Roadway and Bridge Improvement Projects (TIGER VI) in Southwest Mississippi to radically improve motor vehicle transportation reliability and safety in an economically-disadvantaged rural region. Alcorn State University (a historically black university), Claiborne County, Franklin County, and Jefferson County all have substandard county-road networks.
  • The New York Division initiated the TIGER VI Access to Opportunity: Transportation and Housing study in the Eastern Rockaways to analyze the mobility needs and barriers to economic opportunity within Arverne East, the Edgemere Urban Renewal Area, and surrounding communities. The study will also explore ways to improve connections to public transportation, the broader street network, local retail corridors, and the rest of New York City.
  • The Tennessee Division partnered with the Nashville MPO to identify EJ communities along the Gallatin Pike corridor, using heat maps to illustrate their locations, in order to select analysis zones for the Tennessee Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Assessment.
  • The Vermont Division conducted an EJ Program Review after the Division identified a need for guidance or best practices for a State that has a significant low-income population and relatively few minority residents. Plans are currently underway to implement customized EJ training to address the needs of the State and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission.
  • The Wyoming Division and Wyoming DOT conducted a Pedestrian Bicycle Assessment in Laramie, which involved transit-access enhancement. The area is adjacent to the University of Wyoming where there is a large student population that is classified as low income.
  • The Connecticut Division reviewed and commented on the Sustainable Knowledge Corridor final report, which was a product of regional councils in Connecticut and Massachusetts and contains extensive sections on equity across EJ population clusters in each region.
  • As part of Indiana DOT’s (INDOT) Title VI Voluntary Corrective Action Plan with FHWA and 2015 Title VI Implementation Plan, INDOT created an internal team with a member from each major agency program. All team members have received Title VI training, including EJ. They have subsequently worked with the Title VI Program Manager to determine what data needs to be collected and analyzed to determine impacts on EJ populations and what actions should be taken.
  • The Idaho Division and Idaho Transportation Department developed a Programmatic Finding on EJ, which covers certain types of minor projects as outlined in the Finding document. The Finding was issued for 2015 as a pilot program, and results were to be evaluated at the conclusion of the year.

Federal Transit Administration

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provides planning and project development guidance to ensure FTA funding recipients comply with EO 12898, the Department’s EJ Order 5610.2(a), and the FTA EJ Circular C 4703.1 through its policies, programs, and activities. The following summarizes several key activities and accomplishments from 2015 carried out by the FTA Office of Planning and Environment. The FTA worked collaboratively on EJ matters throughout the year with OST, other OAs, and other Federal departments. Activities included participating in the EJ IWG and on the associated stakeholder committees responsible for national EJ IWG outreach.

Professional Development and Training

  • The FTA developed a two-day NTI EJ training module and in 2014 and 2015 rolled it out to eight FTA regions across the country, including Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Austin, and Boston in 2015. The training provided FTA grantees with an overview of EJ principles and explained the process for planning, implementing, and applying transportation equity considerations. Based on comments received from the course, in 2016 FTA will work with NTI to develop a new advanced course in the implementation of EJ considerations in Transportation Planning and Project Development to serve as an additional resource for FTA Regions, project sponsors, and the public. The advanced course will focus on a case study review of promising best practices in the field of EJ within transportation planning.
  • The FTA partnered with FHWA to deliver an internal webinar entitled “EJ in Planning” as part of the “Let’s Talk Planning” webinar series.
  • The FTA worked with the FHWA Michigan Division office to develop two courses on EJ and Title VI Data Collection and Analysis. The first part of this course provided an overview of the interconnections and important distinctions between EJ and Title VI for purposes of data collection, analysis, and risk mitigation to inform transportation decision-making. The second part of the course, which was held in February 2016, was an in-person two-day training seminar, “Environmental Justice in Planning,” and demonstrated analytical techniques and tools for compliance with EO 12898 and recognized noteworthy EJ analysis practices.

Research

  • The FTA participated in the DOT Connectivity Executive Roundtable, which discussed connectivity issues with a particular attention to vulnerable communities. FTA is currently developing a Connectivity Performance Measure Reviews proposal, which seeks to develop a suite of performance measures that are useful for communities of varying size and sophistication to evaluate the level of connectivity of their multimodal public transportation systems, including walking and bicycling connections to public transit, and identify gaps. The requested approach will give particular consideration to the travel needs of EJ communities. The FTA is expecting to have recommendations for this proposal by spring 2016.

National Environmental Policy Act

The FTA continues to be an active participant on the NEPA Committee of the EJ IWG and its associated subcommittees to develop EJ guidelines for NEPA and develop a national training product on EJ and NEPA. FTA contributed to the following deliverables of the NEPA Committee:

  • Community of Practice: Monthly interagency meetings have established a vehicle for cross-agency training and dialogue for addressing complex issues through sharing of experiences and effective practices in addressing EJ in the NEPA process.
  • NEPA/EJ Agency Resource Compendium: The compendium, available on the EJ IWG webpage, gathers publicly available information from 20 Federal agencies (e.g., regulations, orders, guidance, EJ strategic plans) on the intersection of EJ and NEPA into one place and provides hyperlinks to them for easy access (a select set of key references is also available on the EPA NEPA webpage).
  • Promising Practices for EJ Methodologies in NEPA Reviews: The NEPA Committee drafted a compilation of promising practices that represents the results of research, analysis, and discussions by Committee participants concerning the interface of EJ considerations through NEPA processes. It represents the participants’ professional expertise, including their collective thinking and thoughtful deliberation of information sources; it is not formal agency guidance. The FTA-specific methodology for identifying EJ populations is highlighted as a unique approach in this compilation.
  • National Training Product on EJ and NEPA: The NEPA Committee is drafting a National Training Product on EJ and NEPA. This training product is a companion to EJ Methodologies that provides the history of NEPA and EJ, promising practices, and examples from Federal agency NEPA reviews.
  • Lexicon: The NEPA Committee is drafting a lexicon and compendium of key terms as used by Federal agencies to consider EJ in NEPA reviews.

The FTA participated in the National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program held in Washington, DC, which offered three days of high quality educational programming and panel discussions to the more than 500 registrants. The attendees met to share best practices and challenges, and discuss EJ issues, which focused on climate change and climate justice and proved to be highly successful. During the conference, attendees had the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of representatives from Federal and state agencies, local governments, tribes, community groups, business and industry leaders. The conference focused on interactive and innovative ways to enhance communities and provided ways for improved productivity and efficiency.

Technical Assistance

The FTA established the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM). The CCAM goals are bolstered by a number of technical assistance partnerships that work to support the provision and coordination of transportation services promoting the mobility of people with disabilities, older adults, and those of lower incomes. These partners provide a range of services to assist stakeholders at all levels. One partner is the National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM), which helps communities adopt transportation strategies and mobility options that empower people to live independently, and advance health, economic vitality, self-sufficiency, and community. Communities are offered one-on-one support through regional liaisons, a peer-to-peer network, and web resources. The center offers in-person and virtual trainings, a monthly e-newsletter, webinars, and conference calls to share and support best practices in mobility management.

The FTA’s National Public Transportation/Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Technical Assistance Initiative provides technical assistance for TOD activities around public transportation stations, supporting the Ladders of Opportunity initiative. The program’s technical assistance will aid communities in planning for and managing economic development near transit through effective zoning and land use and expert advice on equitable TOD, such as preserving affordable housing or attracting development to an economically challenged community. The FTA engaged Smart Growth America (SGA) to advance TOD through technical assistance, including by providing planning and analysis tools, maintaining a comprehensive online database of TOD information, and establishing a peer-to-peer information exchange. SGA also will offer in-depth technical assistance on TOD to communities through a comprehensive selection process.

Federal Aviation Administration

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ensures compliance with EO 12898 and incorporates EJ core principles into its actions, primarily through implementation of the NEPA and Title VI processes.

  • FAA Order 1050.1F, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures, contains the FAA agency-wide policies and procedures for compliance with NEPA and provides guidance to FAA NEPA practitioners on compliance with environmental laws, regulations, Executive Orders, and other requirements, including EJ. FAA Order 1050.1F was updated in 2015, and was accompanied by a Desk Reference, which includes a chapter specific to EJ identification and analysis (Chapter 12). The Desk Reference incorporates DOT’s EJ Order and EJ Strategy, and the specific EJ processes and procedures were informed by an extensive review of other agency EJ processes and procedures. The FAA Office of Civil Rights, Airport Nondiscrimination Compliance Program Team created a Title VI Awareness Tool and piloted it with nine airports. The Tool outlines EJ questions covering EJ impacts, community demographics, low-income and/or minority populations, outreach/awareness, and community engagement. The FAA Office of Civil Rights provides education and training for Title VI, LEP, and EJ. At the Sixth Annual FAA National Civil Rights Training Conference for Airports, the Airport Nondiscrimination Compliance Program Team hosted a training session with EPA, including a demonstration of their new EJSCREEN Tool, which is a mapping and screening tool that provides demographic and environmental indicators. In addition, FAA conducted eight webinars for airports to provide general information and related requirements for Title VI, LEP, and EJ. The FAA undertook an agency-wide effort to update the FAA Community Involvement Manual to serve as a guide for a broad range of community involvement efforts. The manual includes current requirements, expectations, best practices and technologies, and it highlights the importance for reaching out to EJ populations. The FAA is working to incorporate EJ screening methodologies into the FAA’s environmental noise and air quality modeling tool (the Aviation Environmental Design Tool, AEDT). This effort will improve EJ analysis of proposed FAA actions by enhancing the model to allow for the import, analysis, display, and report of demographic data, including low-income populations and minority populations.

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

Because the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) does not have authority to authorize, fund, or site infrastructure or construction projects, PHMSA is not involved in EJ matters to the same extent as other DOT OAs. PHMSA promulgates and enforces safety regulations to improve pipeline safety and the safety of hazardous materials in all modes of transportation. The PHMSA’s regulations apply nation-wide and are intended to protect all communities. As part of the review cited below, PHMSA will determine actions PHMSA will take to ensure EJ is incorporated as appropriate.

The PHMSA has initiated a review of PHMSA’s External Civil Rights Program, which is responsible for ensuring that all recipients of PHMSA funds comply with their civil rights responsibilities under Federal law, including Title VI and EJ, as directed by EO 12898. The review will assess the effectiveness of the program elements and provide recommendations to improve the program. PHMSA submitted a Title VI Internal Review Plan to OST outlining actions to be taken during the review.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) uses the NEPA process to comply with EO 12898 and to incorporate EJ concerns into its decision-making process. The FMCSA provides opportunities for effective community participation in the NEPA process, as outlined in its NEPA Implementing Procedures and Policy for Considering Environmental Impacts (FMCSA Order 5610.1). In addition, FMCSA addresses EJ during the development of its regulatory actions, as required by EO 12898.

Federal Railroad Administration

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) integrates the consideration of EJ issues into the NEPA process. This ensures that each potentially affected community is engaged during the environmental analysis and that FRA or its project sponsors conduct necessary impact assessment to inform decision-making for FRA-funded railroad projects.

As part of the NEPA process, FRA makes every effort to engage the local community. The FRA conducts extensive public outreach to gain input from the affected community and to identify potential mitigation activities that avoid or minimize disproportionate impacts such as noise, vibration and aesthetics that would affect low-income or minority populations.

If a proposed rail project affects an EJ community, then an impact assessment of the potential impacts to those communities is generally conducted. As part of the impact assessment process, FRA environmental protection specialists work with affected communities to identify potential impacts that must be further examined. The impact assessment identifies basic tools and information sources, and issues important to communities potentially affected by individual projects.

The FRA is planning to produce informational materials to assist project sponsors in applying EJ principles in the development of railroad projects. Currently, FRA provides technical support, resources and direct assistance to project sponsors and stakeholders on a project-by-project basis.

Maritime Administration

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) ensures compliance with EO 12898 through implementation of the NEPA process. The MARAD is in the process of updating its NEPA procedures, Maritime Administrative Order (MAO) 600-1, Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts. The MARAD’s Office of Civil Rights is in the process of developing an MAO that will increase engagement with potential grantees and stakeholders and provide additional opportunities for grantee and staff education on Title VI matters.

The MARAD is cognizant of its EJ responsibilities and ensures that all projects, whether licensure- or grant-related, are carefully reviewed to assess and mitigate potential impacts on vulnerable populations and communities. The MARAD takes proactive steps to address stakeholder concerns. The Office of Intermodal Development has developed a variety of internally- and externally-focused tools to enhance community engagement and has hired a community planner to strengthen partnerships with stakeholders, State DOTs, and MPOs to improve ports’ planning processes. Specific examples include:

  • Staff manuals that present guidance to practitioners on compliance with applicable laws, regulations, Executive Orders, and other requirements;
  • Recommendations regarding educational opportunities through the NHI with a focus on EJ and public engagement; and
  • Port planning and investment toolkits.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) continues to monitor for EJ issues in its programs and activities, and it ensures compliance with EO 12898 through implementation of the NEPA process into its decision-making process.

The NHTSA’s Office of Civil Rights works with the State offices responsible for driver licensing and motor vehicle registration, as well as State Highway Safety Offices, throughout the U.S. to provide technical assistance with respect to EJ and other civil rights issues. In addition, the Office generally addresses EJ issues in the ADA and Title VI complaints it resolves during the course of an investigation.

With regard to the agency’s regulatory activities, NHTSA considers EJ issues as part of its NEPA process. In the agency's Environmental Impact Statements prepared in conjunction with the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program and fuel efficiency improvement program for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, NHTSA has analyzed the potential human health and environmental impacts to minority and low income populations projected to occur as a result of increasing the fuel efficiency of the Nation's vehicle fleets. The NHTSA also analyzed its rulemaking activities pursuant to the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 for potential EJ issues in its Draft Environmental Assessment and continues to consider these issues as it prepares a Final Environmental Assessment.

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Last updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2019